The truth about Nitin Gadkari arranging 50 chartered planes for his daughter’s wedding.

VVIP weddings, especially the ones even remotely associated with the BJP seem to have become a regular target since demonetization. The narrative being peddled has been fixed at:

When the common man and the poor are struggling in long lines at the bank, how come the very rich politicians are able to afford such lavish weddings.

The first instance being the wedding of Janardhan Reddy’s daughter against which even Kejriwal spoke in the Delhi Assembly. Though when it comes to reporting such big fat weddings of opposition party members especially from then Congress, the usual suspects conveniently decided not to make a hue and cry out of the same.

The latest victim in the wedding saga appears to be Union Minister Nitin Gadkari. Yesterday it was reported by the Hindustan Times that Nitin Gadkari for his daughter’s wedding on 4th December planned to charter a whopping 50 planes in the evening in order to ferry his invitees. This report was carried by various media houses[1][2][3].

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The final amount would have been huge as normally a medium-sized chartered flight costs about Rs 3.4 lakhs per hour (The duration is calculated as per the total time the aircraft’s engine was running), plus the airport fees and crew maintenance costs are extra. The total cost per hour would in itself have amounted to Rs 17 crores. Obviously the usual outrage followed

After about 6 hours of the story getting published, ANI carried a report in which Nitin Gadkari’s office completely denied the 50 flights claim. It stated that only 10 non-scheduled flights (i.e. not operated by commercial airlines) had landed in Nagpur the previous night according to the records of the Air Traffic Contol.

Out of these, a minimum of 3 were said to be government operated flights of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and of MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

The other flights included private jets of Ramoji Rao, Zee’s Subhash Chandra, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thakeray and Ramdev Baba. The rest if at-all sourced by Mr Gadkari might have amounted to maximum 3 in number, assuming they are not the flights of some other VVIPs who have not been named.

Apart from this Twitter user Spamnath Bharti carried out his own analysis of the report wherein he tried to prove that not just the part about the 50 jets was false but other claims like no flights from anywhere in the country to Nagpur being available on the 3rd and 4th December too were unfounded.

  • First the claim that no flights to Nagpur were available on the 3rd and 4th December:
  • Second as found out by him in a Marathi newspaper that the wedding muhurat was scheduled at 8:40 AM in the morning hence it calls into question HT’s claim of guests flying in to Nagpur in the evening.

As also pointed out by him in this thread, in a report published in the Indian Express, it was mentioned that very few VIP’s were invited to the wedding and most of them would attend special programs arranged on the 6th in Nagpur and the 8th in Delhi where top dignitaries like the PM, President etc would attend. The report also states that Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Venkaiya Naidu and others were present for the wedding that is on 8:40 AM. Hence they should have landed sometime on the 3rd thereby giving further credence to the ANI report and almost fully debunking the 50 chartered planes flying into Nagpur on Sunday evening claim by HT.

The Hindustan Times though today reported some different figures. A new report today quoted the office of Mr Gadkari as saying that only 12 chartered planes ferried VVIPs for the wedding. The same report went on to quote “sources” from the Nagpur airport authority saying least 28 chartered planes from diverse locations landed at the airport till 5 pm on Sunday, but no details of this figure were provided. Even today’s Times of India report quoted the figure of around ten planes landing in Nagpur.

All in all the original story of 50-odd planes looks very weak now.

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